WHIO reporter, formerly of Lake Charles, La., speaks to those bracing for Hurricane Laura

People in Louisiana and Texas are bracing for Hurricane Laura.

Before coming to WHIO, News Center 7′s Kayla Courvell lived and worked in Lake Charles, La — a city in the direct path of the hurricane.

Louisiana is not stranger to hurricanes, but the state hasn’t seen a storm of this magnitude in 15 years.

>> Remnants of two hurricanes to impact Miami Valley

“Boarded up homes, boarded up businesses, a lot of businesses shut down in lake Charles around noonish yesterday,” said Lake Charles Police Lieutenant, Jeff Keenum, who is required to stay back as the storm makes landfall. “I wish that everyone would leave because I think it’s going to be really bad and it’s going to be devastating to many great folks here.”

When Calcasieu Parish Officials, where Lake Charles is, made the announcement Tuesday about the mandatory evacuation, many people, including Britney Felder, packed up their families and got out.

>> Laura now forecast to be catastrophic Category 4 hurricane

“As we were looking at this storm being a cat 2 or a cat 3, it’s like okay they’re in a safe place, it’ll be okay,” Felder said. “Now that they’re talking about it being a cat 4, that is a game changer.”

As Hurricane Laura ramps up in the gulf, it brings back flashbacks of Hurricane Rita in 2005.

“It was devastating,” Keenum said.

“You remember the pictures of what the hospital looked like, you remember the roads were impassable, you remember that it was 4-6 weeks without electricity,” Felder added.

And now, it’s setting in that that same situation may happen again.

“We’re just exhausted, we are like mentally, physically, emotionally drained,” Felder said. “We are tapped out. When you mix in sheltering in place for a hurricane and a pandemic, it’s almost like you thought you had a little bit left in your cup to give and this just poured out the rest.”

Felder’s children, all under the age of 6, don’t fully grasp the severity of the situation.

“They say, how many days are we going to be away from home again,” Felder added. “How many days until we get to see daddy and I just say you know, I don’t know what that answer is yet, but aren’t we going to have fun today.

On top of all of the uncertainty, is school.

Students in Calcasieu Parish were set to start school last Monday.

“It’s crazy how quickly it shifted in a matter of hours, forget school supplies, forget everything you were stressed about, with distance learning remote learning, hybrid classes, now go get water,” Felder said.

With so much uncertainty surrounding when the Felder’s will return home, or what they’ll return home to, they know they’re safe.

Lieutenant Keenum on the other hand remains in Lake Charles as Hurricane Laura barrels closer to the only place he’s ever called home.

“We knew what we signed up for when we became police officers,” Keenum said.

Our team of Storm Center 7 meteorologists are keeping an eye on Hurricane Laura and say we could see remnants of the storm in the Miami Valley by the end of the week.